With the Jets roster now down to 80 players there’s less than a week left before the Jets and the rest of the NFL need to get down to 53 players. We’ll try and predict what the final 53 will look like at every position on the roster, some which will be very obvious, and a few that may surprise you.
This time of year never fails to make me feel uneasy. As the NFL media and fans argue about the future of UDFAs and veterans trying to hold into roster spots, the reality of the situation is that by 4pm (EST) on Tuesday 30th August 864 people will lose their jobs. Some will be grabbed off waivers by others teams, others will find their way onto practice squads, but for a lot of these guys this will be the end of the road for their NFL career hopes.
What follows is 100% my opinion on this subject. Any coherent objections or unhinged abuse should be directed at me and no-one else.
Final Jets Roster Predictions
Quarterback (3): Zach Wilson, Joe Flacco, Chris Streveler
Mike White will not make this roster. Three weeks ago before we saw him actually throwing live balls I’d have him penciled in as a sure-fire QB3 selection or a candidate for a 6th round pick trade. Now we’d be lucky to get a conditional 7th for him. In this league putting in hard work and good tape should always be rewarded, or what the hell is the point? Streveler will never be anyone’s QB1, and if Flacco goes down for any time against the Ravens the game is essentially over anyway. But Streveler has done enough to stick on the roster, at least until Zach is back healthy, then the Jets may decided to run with two QBs on the roster to make space for another guy.
Running Back (4): Breece Hall, Michael Carter, Tevin Coleman, Zonovan Knight
Yes, the Jets will carry four running backs into the season. Aside from the fact that this is a run heavy team and Mike LaFleur will want a deep backfield, both Knight and Coleman have something to offer on special teams to lessen the load on Braxton Berrios in the return game. This may change at some point if it becomes obvious that Hall is the bell cow back people think he’ll be, but for now it’ll be a committee approach.
Wide Receiver (5): Elijah Moore, Corey Davis, Garret Wilson, Braxton Berrios, Jeff Smith
Whether you like it or not, Jets fans, Jeff Smith is making this roster. It feels like he’s been on this team for about 100 years and every time he steps on the field we keep asking: WHY?! The coaching staff likes him, and he shows up in special teams. Calvin Jackson and Tarik Black have flashed in at least one pre-season game each and I really hope at least one makes it through waivers onto the practice squad.
Denzel Mims isn’t here which make me sad for what he promised to be, but the truth is all the problems we saw in 2021 have still been evident in the pre-season. A few good grabs against the Falcons, and hopefully a few this coming Sunday against the Giants will net the Jets a decent return for him in a trade and I genuinely do hope he manages to find a system that’s the right fit for him somewhere else.
Tight End (4): CJ Uzomah, Tyler Conklin, Jeremy Ruckert, Lawrence Cager
I will throw down with anyone over Lawrence Cager making this roster (well, maybe not Micheal Clemons.) Cager has done more than enough to earn a roster spot for the Jets, and done so making the transition from WR to the TE position. The Jets need a pure pass catching TE and that’s what Cager will offer. This year we are going to live in 12 personnel packages on offence with Uzomah and Conklin getting the majority of the snaps; having Cager as an option in the slot, as well as rookie Jeremy Ruckert in the FB/TE role, will give LaFleur all the flexibility he needs to run the system he so obviously wanted to in 2021, but didn’t have the talent at TE to do so.
The TE room is going to the x-factor for the Jets this season, something entirely foreign to Jets fans, and will take LaFleur’s offense to a whole new level.
Offensive Tackle (4): Duane Brown, George Fant, Conor McDermott, Max Mitchell
Time is up for Chuma Edoga. The 3rd round draft pick from 2019 has never really developed into anything close to a starting offensive tackle in the NFL. Every Jets fan winces as soon as he steps on the field as defensive ends essentially get a free rush at the QB.
Grant Hermanns made the news a few times for getting into a few scrapes in practice, but is a camp body at this point. It would be nice to see him get on the practice squad; the man is massive, and he’s shown a willingness to mix it up with the likes of Carl Lawson and Micheal Clemons, which shows you he is either fearless or insane.
I seriously hope the Jets manage to pick up another tackle off waivers or via trade though. Adding Brown would have been the right move even before Becton’s injury put him out for the year, and that leaves the Jets still needing another body for this Tackle group. The staff has confidence in Mitchell’s ability to develop but if we see either him or McDermott heading onto the field things aren’t going to go well for whomever is behind centre.
Interior Offensive Line (5): Connor McGovern, Alijah Vera-Tucker, Laken Tomlinson, Nate Herbig, Dan Feeney
This one should be relatively uncontroversial. Tomlinson was a massive win for Joe Douglas in free agency as, whether or not you buy into his upside as a pro-bowler, he is a massive upgrade over GVR and has experience with this system. Herbig was another good addition this off-season after he was cut from the Eagles incredibly deep OL room. Fenney played better than expected when called on late in 2021 as injuries ravaged the Jets offensive line, and, let’s face it, he brings the mullet energy we need every now and again.
Defensive End (6): Carl Lawson, John Franklin Myers, Jermaine Johnson, Bryce Huff, Jacob Martin, Micheal Clemons
I’m so excited about this edge group. I really am. We were robbed of seeing Carl Lawson’s breakout season in 2021 after he was lost to a torn ACL, but you’d think he’d not missed a day of practice seeing him this offseason. JFM remains one of Douglas’s best signings since taking over as Jets GM; picked up off waivers in 2019, Franklin-Myers has since earned himself a big contract due to his solid play and versatility along the line.
It was always going to be iceskating uphill for guys like Zuniga, Curry and Anae in a very deep and talented group. The Jets drafted two pass rushers in Micheal Clemons and Jermaine Johnson, and added Martin in free agency to be a situational pass rusher alongside Bryce Huff. Clemons was the nail in the coffin though; aside from being one of the scariest human beings alive, he’s outperformed any reasonable expectations during the pre-season, and he displays a similar skill set to JFM which makes the Jets very versatile on the line.
Martin and Huff both share similar skill sets to Curry, who despite producing well with the Eagles in 2020 has struggled to stay healthy. Anae had a highlight worthy play against Atlanta in the 2nd pre-season game, recording a strip sack which he returned for a TD. That should at the least give him a shot to land on another roster this year.
Defensive Line (4): Quinnen Williams, Solomon Thomas, Sheldon Rankins, Tanzel Smart
With Clemons and JFM playing about one whole person’s share of reps on the interior there’s not a need to carry more players to maintain the heavy rotation Saleh and Ulbrich intend to run on the line.
Quinnen’s name shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone, and Thomas’s addition is a solid, if unspectacular, move to add more talent onto a unit that struggled massively against the run last year.
We wave goodbye to another Mike Mccagnan special in Nathan Shephard; he had other offers this offseason so should have no problem landing a spot on another team.
You could convince me that Rankins could be cut in favour of someone like Marshall as it would free up some cap space and he wasn’t anywhere close to playing to his contract value last year. However, the Jets need to maintain a level of experience on the line and in this system. Rankins provides that while Marshall could still take some more time to develop. As with some other players who are on the roster bubble you hope he clears waivers and makes it to the practice squad.
Linebacker (5): CJ Mosley, Kwon Alexander, Quincy Williams, Marcell Harris, Jamien Sherwood
Hamsah Nasirildeen was one of my favourite draft picks of 2021. Getting him in the 6th round was a steal considering he was a prospective 3rd round pick prior to injuries dropping him down the boards. Maybe a move to LB wasn’t the right thing for Hamsah, or perhaps he’d never have made it as a safety either, but either way he’s been out performed by draft-buddy Sherwood who deserves the opportunity to play and keep developing.
Kwon Alexander and Marcell Harris were both brought in this off-season. Kwon will be a solid addition to the rotation at LB, and I don’t see any reason Harris won’t stick on the roster due to his familiarity with Saleh’s system.
Mosley and Williams will both play this year but 2023 is uncertain for different reasons. Mosley is on an expensive contract and 2023 will be the first time he can be released without a damaging amount of dead-cap, and for Williams he needs to show that he’s grown in the mental aspects of the position, as well as showing a bit more maturity and awareness.
Cornerback (6): DJ Reed, Ahmad Gardner, Bryce Hall, Bradin Echols, Michael Carter II, Javelin Guidry
This is probably the one I’m least certain about. The 5th corner spot could go to Justine Hardee for his special teams presence, or 2021 UDFA signing Isaiah Dunn. My issue with taking Hardee is that with him in the mix you’re really only carrying five corners. He’s always been a special teams signing rather than a DB, and last year the Jets had such a dearth of talent on the roster that giving up a space for Hardee really didn’t matter much.
I’ll admit that I wrote Dunn’s name in the first draft of this; I’d really love for him to make the roster but he was inconsistent last year and although he hasn’t played badly this off-season, Guidry has been solid when he’s played as the backup slot guy. Another year on the practice squad could be good for Dunn; let’s just hope he clears waivers.
Safety (4): Jordan Whitehead, Will Parks, Lamarcus Joyner, Jason Pinnock
My thoughts on the safety position are already out there for all to see. Aside from linebacker this is easily the thinnest group on the roster. Parks has done more than enough to deserve consideration to compete for the start each week over Joyner, but aside from Whitehead the others are all here due to lack of any better options.
Special Teams (3): Greg Zuerlein, Braden Mann, Thomas Hennessy
With the kicking competition already concluded I’m not sure what there is to say. There’s no competition at punter for Mann who really needs to prove himself after a lack luster first two seasons on the Jets. Douglas used a 6th round pick on Mann in 2020, and any draft pick used on a punter requires seeing a big return. It feels like Hennessy has been a Jet as long as I’ve been alive but he’s only been with the team since 2017. Long snapper is a position front offices and fans should never have to think about so here’s hoping for a long career for Thomas.
Nothing lasts forever
Roster predictions are fun things to do, but injuries and waivers make fools of us all. Even if I get this spot on for the initial roster that appears next Tuesday it’ll likely have changed by the time week one rolls around, and for certain a few games into the season.
Once Zach Wilson is back and looks like he’s not still carrying any risk from his injury the Jets may decide to cut down to two QBs and put Streveler on the practice squad. That would free up space to elevate another WR or DB into the mix, or bring someone in via trade to fill out some of those thinner spots if things are looking good in October.